The Importance of Employee Recognition When Working Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust remote work into the spotlight as offices closed their doors and employees turned their homes int...

April 21, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust remote work into the spotlight as offices closed their doors and employees turned their homes into workspaces. By the end of 2020, an estimated 56.8% of Americans were working from home, and while those numbers will shift as the pandemic comes to an end, the popularity of remote work is here to stay. The number of remote workers is expected to double in the next five years, with 36.2 million Americans working remotely.

While working remotely has been popular among employees and managers, it has brought its own set of challenges. Without the constant interaction of the office environment, many employees struggle to stay engaged with their work and their company, ultimately leading them to burn out or quit.

But it’s entirely possible to keep employees engaged without office parties and face-to-face meetings. The secret? Employee recognition.

What is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is how you show your employees that they are valued, seen, and appreciated. In the office, you may have done this through call-outs at the staff meeting, which highlighted the accomplishments of specific employees. This could also take the form of one-on-one meetings or celebrations. 

When working remotely, it is more challenging to replicate these experiences. Perhaps your team is no longer doing all-staff meetings as you did when you were in the office. Or, without constantly passing by someone’s desk during the day, you’re finding it more difficult to remember to meet with them one-on-one about the quality of their work. 

But sacrificing these everyday forms of employee recognition because you’re no longer in the office can come at a significant cost to your business.

Why Employee Recognition Matters

While employee recognition may be hard to quantify, one thing is clear: Employees greatly value it. Employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to quit their job within the next year as those who do. 63% of employees who feel recognized aren’t likely to look for a new job, while 11% of those who don’t feel recognized say the same. And 82% of employees are happier when recognized for their work. Bear in mind that these surveys were conducted prior to COVID, so they don’t take into account the stress of suddenly shifting to remote work, handling childcare during a pandemic, and otherwise living in an abnormally challenging world.

The implications of not properly recognizing employees can be highly detrimental to your business. Gallup estimates that it costs about two times an employee’s salary to replace them. In the US, that accounts for $1 trillion dollars in losses each year. Employee recognition is not just about creating goodwill between your company and your employees; it also contributes to employee retention, which can save your company significant money in the long run.

How To Recognize Employees While Working Remotely

You may not be able to throw an office party while working remotely, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. There are many ways, large and small, to recognize employees while working remotely.

  1. Send your employees gift cards.

While taking your team out to lunch isn’t always feasible with remote work, you can still reward employee accomplishments by paying for their lunch remotely. With virtual gift cards, you don’t even have to worry about the hassle of mailing it. Gift cards are a small, but simple way of expressing your gratitude for an employee’s hard work.

  1. Call out remote work-specific actions.

Maintaining good communication can be tough when a team begins working remotely. When you notice team members being especially responsive or helping to find new ways of communicating, send them a quick message letting them know that you noticed. This can help to boost motivation and employee satisfaction while they adjust to this new way of working.

  1. Recognize them publicly.

If your team uses Slack or a similar communications platform, you can send messages to the whole team sharing your praise. Public praise is a great motivator for people to continue doing good work and strive to be even better. Encouraging other team members to share their praise is also a wonderful way to build camaraderie between employees and cultivate a positive, connected work culture -- even while remote.

  1. Invest in employee recognition software.

Platforms such as Assembly are designed to make employee recognition an easy part of your company’s culture. Assembly encourages employees to give each other highly specific, public praise with simple tools that integrate with Slack and Microsoft Teams. You can also offer rewards to employees for their hard work. These platforms take the backend work out of employee recognition, so you can focus less on logistics and more on recognizing your employees’ contributions to your company.

Final Thoughts

Employee recognition is key to keeping employees motivated and engaged with their work, especially when your team works remotely. By implementing good employee recognition programs and techniques, you can retain your best employees and maintain a strong company culture, no matter where in the world your employees are.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Employee recognition guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. These one-time services start at $5,000. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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